Students will learn about global aspects of music and its meaning with connections to the environment, sound, and world cultures.
This course offers an introduction to the field of ethnomusicology and introduces various traditional and popular musics from around the world, with special emphasis on the countries we will visit on our voyage. In addition to expanding our own musical horizons, the course offers insight into the complex relationship between musical practices and cultural understandings as they are embedded within overarching dynamics of historical, social and ecological change.
We will explore ancient court and folk musics from China, Japan, Vietnam and Myanmar; nuanced art music traditions from India and popular songs from Bollywood; multilayered dance-drumming ensembles from Ghana; popular and spiritual traditions in Morocco and South Africa; and much more!
Through surveying selected musical traditions and practices from around the world, this course explores the ways in which music both reflects and affects social, cultural, and ecological relationships. Students will become familiar with basic musical and anthropological concepts while also considering their role as ethnographic observers. In addition to course readings, audio-visual materials and occasional on-ship music-making opportunities, field classes will present students an intimate opportunity to experience music and dance firsthand and to interact with diverse musical culture-bearers.
While no previous technical knowledge of music is necessary in order to succeed in this course, students will be expected to develop critical listening skills alongside critical thinking skills, and will be expected to identify certain musical aspects of listening examples. More broadly, however, the course highlights the ways in which music often articulates and shapes important political and social issues, and how mass media influences musical production and consumption on a global scale.
Field WorkCountry: Ghana
Date: April 3, 2019
This Field Class will allow students to: (1) observe the process of making musical instruments, including drums, shakers, and bells; (2) interact with craftsman, artists, and culture-bearers: (3) participate in a drumming and dance workshop. Professor Professor Daniel Avorgbedor, an Ethnomusicologist from The Institute of African Studies at The University of Ghana, will be our local expert and host for the day.
Through presentations, discussions and participant-observation, students will increase their understanding of the intricate connections between movement, music, narrative and ritual in Ghana. Students will be exposed to—and participate in—singing, dancing, and various drumming styles, which may include kpalogo, gota, kete and others. Students should take thorough notes in preparation for writing a field class reflection paper on return to the ship.
1. Experience community craftsmanship in a local Ghanaian drum-carving village.
2. Learn about the intricate connections between movement, music, narrative and ritual in Ghana.
3. Gain a firsthand understanding of the complexity of African rhythms, dance, and singing style.